How I Created a Standing Desk IKEA Hack

My standing desk IKEA hack

It’s official – I now work at a standing desk in my home office. I love walking right up to my computer instead of plopping down in a chair. And it’s not just any standing desk, either; my desk is an Ikea hack. It’s fashioned from IKEA bookcases with a keyboard tray added on. It looks sleek and pro, allows me to sit and stand, and cost less than $300.

It’s early yet – I’ve only had my new desk a few days. I admit I’m a little excited-scared about working standing up – will I get fatigued? Will I be able to concentrate as well? What unforeseen aches and pains might it cause? These are questions I’ll be able to answer soon.

If you’re considering a standing desk, check out why I chose this option and how to do it yourself. I’m hesitant to even call this desk a hack because it looks so good!

My standing desk in actionWhy I Choose a Standing Desk

I’ve always felt slothly when sitting at my desk for hours. Although I exercise six-plus hours a week, apparently that’s not enough to ward of the negative effects of sitting. Studies have shown that:

  • Women who sit for more than six hours a day were about 37% more likely to die during the course of a 14-year period than those who sat fewer than three hours per day. Men were about 20% more likely to die [1].
  • Over time, the extra calories burned by standing up do add up! Check out this calculator to see.
  • Standing requires more energy as you tense your legs and core and use small stabilizer muscles to stay upright. Standing gives you a better opportunity to use good posture because you’re not dependent on an ergonomic chair.
  • Sitting all day is a major cause of inactive glutes, tight hips, rounded shoulders, and low-back pain.

Lots of storage space in this standing deskAll of these reasons and more convinced me I should give standing up a try.

Of course, you don’t have to stand up all day to benefit from less sitting. You can integrate more standing into your day even if you’re chair-bound by walking or standing every 30 minutes or standing more in everyday activities (waiting in line, talking on the phone, watching TV).

After much reading I also believe a combination of sitting and standing at work is ideal. I now have both options.

My IKEA Hack Standing Desk

Have you ever seen store-bought standing desks? Unless you want to spend a small fortune, most look about as utilitarian as it gets. I was inspired by this video explaining how to make a standing desk from IKEA bookcases. I love the look, plus it has lots of storage space. It consists of three IKEA Expedit bookcases (one 17 3/8×72 7/8″ unit and two 31 1/8×31 1/8″ units).

Since I want to sit and stand, we installed a second monitor on a separate desk which can be used with the same computer. All I have to do is grab whatever applications I need with the mouse and drag them onto the second screen. Then I move my wireless keyboard to my desk to sit down to start working (see top picture). It’s really quite simple!

Keyboard Tray

The main obstacle with a hack standing desk is ensuring you have a keyboard tray that’s ergonomic. In our case, we bought this 3M adjustable keyboard tray and ended up installing it upside down to make it work. I’m on the short side (5’2″), and if we’d installed it from the top as it was designed, it wouldn’t have been low enough. Even now it’s only the right height when I’m wearing my Dansko clogs. So we’re looking into an anti-fatigue mat that might add an inch under my feet.

You'll need to add an adjustable keyboard

Know the proper ergonomic heights for you and measure carefully for a keyboard tray that adjusts to the right height. Most trays don’t move up or down more than about 5 inches.

We also used plastic tubing from IKEA to hide cords and some wicker baskets for storage.

Other Considerations

  • Everything I’ve read says to sit as well as stand to avoid mega fatigue. It’s worth it to try and wrangle this.
  • If you have leg or foot problems, assess whether you can handle long periods of standing.
  • Buy an anti-fatigue mat with foam or gel. I haven’t bought one yet so I don’t know which is better.

Things to Watch Out For

  • Slouching while standing. Don’t lean on one leg or prop an elbow up on the desk. Bad posture while standing defeats the purpose of a standing desk and can cause new problems (neck, hip, or back pain). Stand straight and tall, shoulders down and back, abs pulled in. Keep your chin tucked towards your chest so you’re not looking up at the monitor.
  • Ergonomics. Your keyboard height must put your arms at a 90-degree angle and your eyes should be looking directly at the middle of the screen. Check out this calculator to learn more.
  • Trying to do it all too fast. Think of standing up like converting to barefoot running. It’s a process that takes adjustment and is best done slowly. You may never stand up all day, but I know people who do!

I’m excited about this new setup! Let me know if you have a standing desk or whether you’ve considered hacking your own.

This article originally appeared on

28 thoughts on “How I Created a Standing Desk IKEA Hack

  1. I told my husband that I wanted one for Christmas (and actually picked out the one I wanted). It is portable which I love and adjustable. I love standing during the day – and lots of times I walk forward and back between hitting enter or even just walk in place – so much better than sitting!!!


  2. Great idea here and I have been contemplating how to stay more active. Due to the work setting I don’t have the freedom to do this, but I do make sure to take breaks often and get up and move around. I’ll be interested to see how you like it as I do hope to have a home office in the near future. 🙂


  3. Suzanne, i’m intrigued and can’t wait to learn more about how this plays out over time. As a writer, I’m constantly at my desk but have a mental block at the thought of standing all day…and would like to become more open-minded about this option. 🙂


  4. Welcome aboard the standing desk revolution! :’)

    That’s quite a fine looking piece of office furniture you have there, much better than my first creation!

    I created my first desk monster after realized that 95% of my ‘work from home’ time was spent at the snack bar in the kitchen. After spending all day sitting down at my day job, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and sit yet again (my body spoke – I listened).

    I’ve moved on or I guess you could say “up” now, but they’re will always be a special place in my heart for my first Frankendesk.

    FYI – The anti-fatigue mats definitely come in handy, and are worth every penny.



    • Haha! Thanks Matt… I am so glad you’ve moved up from a Frankendesk. I always think I’ve heard it all when it comes to standing desk hacks, but I’m continously surprised at people’s ingenuity. Here’s to standing!


  5. Love this! As a physician I spend a lot of time at my desk doing notes and have looked into buying one of these. I have a few doctor friends using them and they love them. They also make a bike desk so you can pedal rather than walk. Can’t wait to hear what you think about it. I always tell my patients their body was made to move so move it as much as you can.


    • Hey Kelli! I couldn’t agree more about the body being made to move. The more low-intensity movement the better, with some high-intensity thrown in! I’ve never heard of the bike desk – sounds like the ultimate way to stay fit while working though!


  6. Well this is exciting, for once I’m doing something right. And on accident! I’m a personal chef so I work on my feet anyway, but my laptop is on a high kitchen counter so I do paperwork etc standing also. Anti-fatigue mat is a good suggestion, also like anything, good shoes are critical!


  7. I’m mind-blown, seriously! I alternate between sitting and standing, and this looks like something easy enough to set up in my apartment. Certainly a good alternative to costly standing desks. Thanks for the inspiration!


  8. Your standing desk looks super cool. I have an arrangement with a carton on top of a regular desk for my keyboard, and a taller box (actually a metal thing designed to hold bread, standing on its end) to raise up my screen. But it’s not too comfortable, and not as inviting as the chair. With one like yours, I’d surely use it more often.


  9. I also built the Ikea version with a 7 1/2″ shelf and using it for about fourteen days. I stand the greater part of the day and I use a $35 drafting chair whatever remains of the time.

    I have 2 fake hips and joint pain in one that had abandoned me with a dull hurt in the hip. The hurt has left since I began working in the standing position without shoes. I don’t know whether running shoeless has assisted with that. I was really happy with my work since I read this article. I think I should read it 14 days ago to build one like yours. Great job….


    • Hey Roy – Nice! I’ve heard running shoes may cause problems for some people. I have to wear supportive shoes and have had the same Dansko clogs for 10 years :). I’m glad you got something out of my experience!


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